Feeds

Dolphin skin key to subaquatic speed

Flipper fights 'form drag'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Dolphin skin will be key in future designs of marine vessels, thanks to Japanese research.

Fortunately, this does not spell the end for the sea-going mammals: physicists at the Kyoto Institute of Technology have discovered how the surface of a dolphin's skin reduces drag as it swims, and the findings will help scientists to design more energy-efficient boats and submarines.

The research team wanted to find out what role the dolphin's skin played in reducing 'form drag' - the pressure of water against the skin. Dolphins have extremely soft, flaky skin which they shed every two hours. By modelling how the water flows over the flakes, and how they are eventually shed, the research team was able to conclude that the softness of the skin does reduce friction.

Professor Yoshimichi Hagiwara and colleagues also discovered that as the skin flakes off, it also helps the dolphin through the water: the flakes break up swirling vortices next to the skin that would otherwise slow the animal down.

Professor Hagiwara explains that travelling quickly through water is much more complex than travelling quickly through air. He and his team are now building simulation dolphins to replicate the 'flaking' that allows them to move so fast through water. "This research could help us build boats, ocean liners and submarines using technology based on these natural solutions," he said.

The original paper was published in the Institute of Physics journal, Journal of Turbulence. ®

Related stories

Boffins seek human chimps
Boffins isolate 'blogging gene'
Boffins grow breasts on mice

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?